Assisted living offers the additional assistance, socialization, and peace of mind to seniors who need it. However, many assisted living communities offer even more health and wellness opportunities to their residents. From onsite doctor visits to health screenings, residents can take advantage of a variety of services only steps away from their apartment door. Therapy services are just one of these health amenities that assisted living residents can benefit from.
Types of Therapy
Older adults living in assisted living communities may benefit from different therapy services. Typically, residents can work with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language therapy, and even respiratory therapy in their apartments or throughout their senior community. Each therapy has a different purpose and could be utilized on a short-term or long-term basis.
Physical therapy work focuses on large muscle movements. Seniors with poor balance or decreased strength in their arms or legs could benefit from physical therapy sessions. Physical therapists work with seniors to increase or maintain muscle tone and endurance, giving seniors a better chance at performing tasks independently and decreasing their risk of falling.
Physical therapists also lead restorative therapy programs for residents. These restorative therapy programs are led by caregivers or nursing staff and are designed with individual resident needs in mind. During regular care or assistance, caregivers work with residents to perform prescribed exercises that increase range of motion and strength.
Occupational therapy focuses on fine motor movements, as well as hygiene tasks. Seniors with mobility deficits because of arthritis or a stroke are likely to work with an occupational therapist as they learn new ways to complete daily tasks. Occupational therapists are especially good at finding adaptive equipment to return independence to seniors, which can positively affect self-esteem as well as body awareness.
Speech Language Therapy
Speech language therapy focuses not only on speech, as the name suggests, but also any language- or mouth-related concern. Seniors with problems swallowing or chewing food have great success when they work with a speech language therapist, as do seniors who have short-term memory loss. Speech therapists work with seniors on judgment concerns, language deficits, and other cognitive issues that arise at the onset of dementia or after a stroke.
Respiratory therapy is a crucial part of recovery for seniors who are struggling with breathing difficulties. For many seniors, a common cold can quickly turn into pneumonia, which can make it difficult to breathe. Respiratory therapists work through massage and tapping to loosen mucus and encourage better breathing.
Benefits of Therapy
Assisted living residents who work with therapists are often able to do so either in their apartment or in a designated space of the senior living community. This easy access to therapy appointments often increases resident participation and engagement, as well as gives the therapist the chance to communicate directly with nurses and caregivers who are assisting the resident on a daily basis.
Seniors who work with therapists not only can decrease risk of falling and build their endurance to complete tasks with more independence, they can gain self-esteem and even recover from hospital stays more quickly. If you think that your senior loved one would benefit from therapy services, talk to your senior care community about it.
Typically, your senior living community will work with your loved one’s doctor to get a prescription for the therapy service; then, services will begin within just a few days. Most therapy services are short-term, with specific goals set after an initial assessment. However, restorative programs can be ongoing and just as important as other therapy work.
Assisted living communities feature amenities that are designed to keep your loved one healthy and independent. Be sure you are taking advantage of these opportunities!
For a more detailed explanation of what assisted living is, read our What is Assisted Living guide.